I asked Shepherd to let me share the email and he gave me permission.
For those of you who don't know, I was fortunate to be in the Ole Miss Concert Singers with Shepherd Smith--he sat behind me for two years.
He sent this email to our director, Dr. Jordan, a few hours ago from Lebanon.
Here it is:
Greetings from Kiryat Schmona in the north of Israel 2km from the border with Lebanon. Rockets blast. Fires burn. Children spend this Shabat in fallout shelters for the 12th consecutive day. Over the border, part of Lebanon is being reduced to ruins. I peck on my blackberry in a smoky, windy valley in the shadow of the Golan Heights and beneath screaming F-16s... crouched on the page of a mideast history textbook 20 years before its printing.
Remember instructing us how to say that word in context from the choir room? (I was probably talking to someone on the back row... elevating your blood pressure and testing your resolve, yet again) Those were my first glancing brushes with the world beyond the red clay hills of my childhood. They did peek an interest, though I didn't know it at the time, that's carried me to this day. I read a book or 2 about the region in the years that followed... learning a little something of substance.
Last night I spoke with my colleagues in our encampment... men and women who hail from 4 different continents... who've endured war and famine, in some cases, since I sat between corky and mark before your guiding wand... and told them of those days in oxford and dubrovnik and beyond. The beginning.
You once told me, as I was weighing the now laughable conflict between greek life and geek life, that "20 years from now you'll be better for these times and these experiences."
Thanks, Dr. J... For patience and guidance... for opening young and impressionable eyes to reality beyond the Rebels. Part of the human foundation that steadies and readies me here and everywhere... was of your making..
Best to you, Mrs J and the family.